Omega 6 & American Heart Association - Flawed Agenda?

from Omega-6 Fat News & Commentary Research News by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD


"What is the American Heart Association’s Agenda? —It Sure Ain’t Science or Public Health"

Controversy and debate are an expected (and welcome) part of the scientific process. But the American Heart Association’s recent advisory urging Americans to gobble up their omega-6 fat is an unconscionable disservice, to both the scientific process and the public health.
Old School Cholesterol Dogma versus Science: On January 27, 2009 the American Heart Association (AHA) issued an advisory touting the benefits of eating plenty of omega-6 fats. Here's the problem--AHA made sweeping statements that are not supported by the research, while ignoring landmark studies, which don’t support their views [Harris]. While the cholesterol myth has finally been put to rest as the cause underlying heart disease (it's inflammation and beyond), it would seem that heart healthy eating would need some refinement.
Yet, the American Heart Association's key rationale for promoting omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, is because of their ability to lower blood cholesterol, when eaten in the place of saturated fats. (Keep in mind that one out of every two people with heart disease has a normal blood cholesterol level.) Furthermore, the AHA asserts that if Americans were to lower their current omega-6 fat, their heart health would suffer.
Omega-6 fat intake has sky-rocketed in the last century, so it would seem that we should see a dramatic lowering of heart disease in the USA, yes? No.

The incidence of cardiovascular disease has increased in parallel with the increase in linoleic acid intakes in many countries [Ghosh]. Linoleic acid is the most commonly eaten omega-6 fatty acid. Notably, people who have died from heart disease have higher blood levels of the omega-6 fat, arachidonic acid, as shown above [Okuyama].
Do Countries with Low Omega-6 Fat Diets Have Higher Rates of Heart Disease?
Given the American Heart Associationn's rationale, we should see elevated heart disease in countries that eat diets low in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Nope, again. Think Mediterranean diet. Cultures that eat Mediterranean diets have much lower rates of heart disease.